The cost of hiring—and why it pays to invest in retention

At the beginning of 2021, more than 40% of employees were considering leaving their jobs.
Over the next 12 months, record numbers followed through.

The business world is buzzing with talk of “The Great Resignation” and how companies can manage their new, urgent hiring needs. A less-talked-about but potentially more effective solution is to focus more on how to improve employee retention.

Starting over with new employees is costly. You’ll spend far less in time, effort, and resources when you work on reducing employee turnover in the first place. In this article, we’ll take a look at what it actually costs to hire new people and follow up with ways to better engage and keep your top talent.

The cost of hiring

Data shows that replacing an employee costs one-half to two times their annual salary. That’s a significant investment. So where does all the money go?

It’s easy to assume the bulk of hiring costs revolve around offering better salaries. But the truth is that there are plenty of less visible costs that add up for your organization when you have worker turnover.

Consider a few of the expenses involved:

  • Recruiting fees. Each position has a large pool of potential candidates. Companies often need help shortlisting and finding the top picks. And that usually means paying for recruiting services or software.
  • Onboarding costs. Bringing someone into the office involves more than cleaning off the desk the last person vacated. New employees need organization- and job-specific training. Plus, you incur the costs of any specialized equipment or resources they’ll need, from computers and company phones to software subscriptions.
  • Downtime for existing employees. Employee turnover and hiring new staff involve multiple people within your organization. HR professionals and leaders handle both resignations and the interviewing process. Not to mention the time other employees take away from work as they help new recruits get up to speed.
  • The new employee learning curve. New employees rarely hit the ground running. It generally takes time to learn the ropes and make a place for themselves in your office culture. You again are running at reduced productivity, sometimes for weeks, as they learn.

You need an effective recruiting process to ensure you make the right hiring decisions on time. But costs add up quickly when you repeat the process often.

The key to keeping those costs down is to avoid hiring where possible.

But… can we avoid hiring?

Hiring is great when your business is scaling. And at some point, certain employees will want to leave, and you’ll have to replace them. What you can, and should, avoid, though, is employees quitting en masse.

To reduce employee turnover, you need to understand what motivates people to stay with you. Research the benefits workers look for and build a culture that helps people thrive at work. Then take deliberate action.

Put strategies in place to engage and retain your top talent. Focus your time and resources on growth to maintain momentum.

How To Improve Employee Retention And Reduce Hiring Costs
How to improve employee retention

The rise in employee turnover is about more than just pay. That means you need to think beyond salary increases and bonuses. Here are six strategies you can use to improve employee retention in your organization.

1. Give employees the right tools

Make sure you supply employees with the resources they need to do their jobs. For example, when people don’t have access to the software they need, or don’t know how to use that software, they’re going to eventually disengage.

Don’t leave them to figure it out on their own. Show support by enabling them to do the work you’re paying them to do. Supply the equipment, tools, and information they need to get the job done.

2. Offer learning and development opportunities

Training and development are crucial factors in employee retention. One of the biggest reasons employees start looking around for new jobs is that they don’t see a future with their current employer.

When you provide formal training, you show people you care about their futures. They see that you’re willing to invest in them not only for today but also for the roles they’ll fill in the future. Train your staff regularly to help them grow with your company instead of letting them outgrow their jobs.

3. Support career trajectories

Work with employees to plan their futures with your organization. People want to know their work is valued. And they want to progress. Make it easier for them to want to stay by engaging with them in the planning process.

Have leaders talk with individual employees about their career goals. Provide opportunities for mentorship and for continuous learning. And give feedback on performance. Let people know how they could improve to get where they want to be. And of course, celebrate their successes to encourage them along the way.

4. Emphasize employee wellbeing

In many cases, employees decide to move on when they feel like they’re in a toxic work environment. Demanding hours, unsupportive coworkers and employers, and stressful workloads all lead to disengagement and burnout. Help employees out by creating a healthy work culture.

Promote a good work-life balance by respecting work hours. Overtime may happen once in a while. But if it’s becoming the norm, it’s time to review and cut back on demands or offload some responsibilities.

Give your employees the tools to protect their own wellbeing. Offer training in wellness practices, like mindfulness and stress management. And educate people on the soft skills they need to foster good working relationships. Save in the long run by spending resources on protecting the mental and emotional health of your employees.

5. Promote an inclusive culture

Create a workplace that makes people feel safe and heard. People disengage when they don’t feel like speaking up does any good. And all too often, leaders and colleagues can unknowingly exclude certain voices.

Deliver training on diversity and inclusion. Offer courses that teach your employees what DE&I means and why it’s important. And courses that teach them specific skills for embracing diversity and inclusion. Include content that helps them recognize unconscious bias in themselves and others. Give them the skills to confront discrimination and invite everyone’s voices into the conversation.

When employees feel safe and valued, they’re more likely to be content and productive at work.

6. Ask for (and act on) feedback

Finally, ask your employees what’s going well, and what could be improved. And ask regularly. Send out surveys or do routine check-ins after major projects. Make sure you’re hearing everyone’s voice, and then act on what you hear.

Employees won’t feel you really care about their welfare if you ask for feedback and then nothing changes. Make it clear that you want to hear from people. Then follow up with action. Employees who have a say in how things work will be more invested in your company for the long term.

Employee retention is only part of a good strategy

Using these tips will help you boost retention, but it will also improve your hiring efficiency. It may sound like an oxymoron. But when you focus on creating a thriving work culture, your employer brand grows.

And a good reputation means it’ll be easier to get new talent when hiring needs.

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